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Cloud-cuckoo proposals to break up Cal Mac could lead to strikes

2 November 2018

TSSA leader, Manuel Cortes, has revealed his fears that Transport Minister Michael Matheson is on the verge of breaking up Cal Mac ferries.

Cortes is raising the alarm after reading a recommendation to do just that from the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee (RECC).And he predicts industrial action on the lifeline ferry services should Matheson heed that advice.

A 7-page letter from the RECC sent to the Minister this week made several recommendations for the future of the route including investment in new ships and harbours, and “bundling” the Clyde & Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) into smaller groups of routes to make it more attractive to private sector franchisers.

But Manuel, General Secretary of the TSSA which represents port and shore workers in CalMac warned, “Breaking up the network into smaller “bundles” would be disastrous for the Islanders.

“We’ve seen from the UK railways what happens when you let the routes be cherry picked. Delays, cancellations and deteriorating rolling stock. Frankly this proposal is cloud cuckoo and what the Scottish Government must do is deliver now on ending the tendering of this lifeline services. Anything else just won't work

“If the Scottish Government bundles the routes for the next CHFS contract, Privateers will swoop in on the profitable routes, whilst the Scottish taxpayers are left footing the bill for the rest. The RECC is chaired by a Tory and so it’s little surprise that it is infected with pure Tory dogma.

“There’s much to welcome in the recommendations. More investment in ships and harbours is long overdue. But the Scottish Government can only get good value for money for this by placing bulk orders. A series of different private companies running different routes won’t get the favourable loan rates to build them that a public sector body like the Scottish Government could – as Humza Yousaf once said about train building to our staff!

“Sadly, a group of private sector companies only interested in turning a profit and only running individual “bundles” of routes are unlikely to have any interest in the serious investment needed to buy or build new ships. If the Scottish Government is serious about investing in the CHFS routes they need to keep it together as one contract – and keep these lifeline services in the public sector for good.”


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